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10 Ways to Infuriate a Tarot Reader


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I love reading Tarot. It’s a delightful hobby, I find it to be a deeply meaningful practice, and it’s the best job I’ve ever had - I mean, how many people get paid to do what they love? Not very many. But, being a professional Tarot reader also means that I occasionally have to deal with clients who drive me crazy. I know some of my clients follow this forum, so if you’re reading this, please know that I’m grateful that you do business with me, but also that I want you to stop making me insane. Without further delay, I present to you my list of 10 ways to infuriate a Tarot card reader:

1st: I can’t afford to pay anything right now, but if you give me a free reading I promise I’ll pay for more readings later.

This is my #1 pet peeve: people who ask me to do free work (no matter how small) or who swear up and down that they’re going to come back in a week and pay me for the work I did today. If you’re a Tarot reader, just say “no” to free work. Don’t do it. If you do free work, stop doing it. You’re teaching your clients that your time isn’t valuable, and they’ll take and take until you’ve got nothing left to give, and even when you cry out that you’ve got nothing to give, they won’t give anything back. I promise you this: free readings are the biggest mistake you’ll ever make. And if you’re a client who wants a Tarot reading, why in the world would you think it’s okay to ask for a free service? I mean, it’s not like you’d walk into your local greasy spoon restaurant and tell the waitress that you really want to order an entree but you need a free plate of French fries to make up your mind. And if you’re a client shopping for a reading, what do you mean you “can’t afford to pay anything right now?” I happen to know that you probably spent at least $5 on coffee, cigarettes, candy bars, soda pop, chewing gum, or even music or an app on the iStore or Google Play today. And how much did you spend yesterday? And how much are you going to spend tomorrow? So don’t even pretend to be poor, because I know for a fact that’s not true. What you’re really saying is, “My daily indulgence of coffee, cigarettes, candy, soda, gum, or tech is more important to me than your time.” So if you ever find yourself telling me that you “can’t afford to pay anything,” you’ll understand why I’m going to laugh at you and tell you go away.

2nd: Please just tell me whatever you see!

There are two mandatory ingredients for a good Tarot reading: desire and specificity. It’s not enough for you to want a Tarot reading, because desire alone will only bring you to the Tarot table. Without a specific question which addresses the deep concern that motivated you to seek a reading, you will be sorely disappointed. Continuing the analogy of your local greasy spoon restaurant, would you tell the waitress to have the chef cook “whatever he wanted?” For all you know, the chef has a week-old can of spam that’s still edible plus some floppy celery that he can’t sell. Are you sure you really want to eat that meal? Or would you rather walk and tell the waitress, “I want a plate of buttermilk biscuits covered with southern-style gravy and a fresh mug of hot coffee with double sugar and double cream?” I know from years of professional experience that you won’t enjoy a reading if I tell you “whatever I see.” Ask a specific question, and I promise I’ll cook something you like to eat.

3rd: Please just tell me what I should do.

How about, No? I’m not here to tell you what you should do. Only you can take responsibility for your life, and while I’ll do my best to present options and alternatives, I refuse to absolve you of personal responsibility and enable you to make patently bad decisions. You alone have to live with the consequences of your decisions, and for that reason only you can make your decisions. I’m also not going to tell you what you should do because I have absolutely zero interest in listening to you complain that things didn’t turn out the way you hoped. No kidding! They didn’t turn out the way you wanted because you asked me to make decisions for you based on my limited knowledge of your life, when things would have turned out much better if you had looked at your Tarot reading as advice and then made a decision for yourself based on your knowledge of your life.

4th: Thanks for the reading, but I really wanted to ask a different question.

And how is that my fault? If you wanted to ask a different question, then you should have asked it first instead of the other frivolous question that you didn’t really care about it. I’ll refund your order and let you purchase another reading if you can refund my time and give me back however long I just spent with you. If you get to the end of a Tarot reading and feel that you really wished you’d asked a different question, you’ve only got yourself to blame. Choose your question with better care next time or don’t come back at all.

5th: I know I told you his name was John, but actually her name is Jane.

One of my least favorite experiences is when I spend a few minutes talking with the client about the question so that I know the context in which I’m going to read the cards, complete the reading, and then the client says, “I know we just got done talking about my question, but I didn’t tell you this one crucial piece of information that suddenly makes this entire reading worthless.” If you’re a Tarot reader, you know how angry this makes you. If you’re a Tarot client and you’ve done this to your reader, shame on you. Speaking for myself, I’ll say what I’ve always said: I’m not a psychic, I’m a Tarot reader, which means that I read the cards in context to your specific question. If you deliberately leave out some crucial piece of information that “breaks” the reading, that’s not my fault: it’s yours. If you get to the end of a reading and tell me, “I know I said I wanted to know about ABD, but I forgot to tell you about C,” I’m going to tell you to purchase another reading because that’s your fault. I mean, that’s like going to a restaurant and telling the waitress you want a cheeseburger and then getting upset because it doesn’t have any onions on it. No kidding! Of course she forgot the onions - you didn’t even ask for them! It’s really hard for me to give you a complete burger if you don’t even tell me what you want in it.

6th: I’m a psychic but I can’t read for myself and I need you to do it for me.

Uh huh… and, tell me again why you can’t read for yourself? I’ve heard lots of psychics say that their sanctimonious God-given powers prevent them from seeing their own future, and I’ve heard lots of Tarot readers say that the cards “just don’t work” for them when they read for themselves, but I’ve got news for you: this isn’t a matter of either your imaginary friends or your Tarot deck not talking to you, but a matter of you just not being a very good reader. I know from my own experience that you’ll get past this self-imposed hurdle if you do two things: first, believe that you can divine your own reality, and second, practice divining your own reality. My experience reading for other readers is mostly positive, but I’ve got more than a handful of experiences with readers who tell me their question but then after I divine their situation swear up, down, left, right, and center that I’m completely wrong. Pardon me for saying so, but I thought you came to me because you can’t see your situation and need another perspective? Because the way it looks from my side of the conversation is that you know full well what’s happening because you can clearly define everything that isn’t your situation. The problem isn’t that you can’t read for yourself, but that you refuse to see yourself. Suck it up, buttercup.

7th: I’m also a Tarot reader, and I want to know exactly which cards you pulled and what positions you used in your reading. Or, My friend is a Tarot reader and wants to know these things.

Uh huh… and how is it going to help you know what cards I pulled or what arrangement I was using? You might as well come right out and say, “I think you’re a liar and I want to test your knowledge.” That’s exactly what you’re saying. Also, the next time you want to ask this kind of question, keep in mind that even Tarot readers who follow the same Tarot symbolism won’t interpret Tarot the same way. Throw in a dose of intuition, plus the fact that Tarot is a practice that’s often unique to the individual, and you’ve got a recipe that can’t be duplicated by another reader. In other words, the answers to these questions are utterly useless. So don’t ask them.

8th: How confident are you that this prediction is 100% certain?

What do I look like, an insurance agent? If you want absolute certainty, the only place where it exists is in the past. If you insist on 100% accurate predictions, then you’re going to be sorely disappointed because the only way a prediction can be 100% accurate is if you embrace a world paradigm in which free agency doesn’t exist and all actions are predetermined. If all actions are predetermined, then there’s no reason to get a Tarot reading because nothing can be changed. If the future can’t be changed, then any information I tell you is utterly worthless, and there’s no reason for you to ask me to tell it to you. But if you’re willing to accept that the future can be changed; that your decisions play a large role in the kind of life you live; and that nothing is certain, then I may yet be of service to you.

9th: I know I’ve asked this same question 15 times in the last week, but…

Yeah, I know you’ve asked the same question 15 times in the last week, too. And while I’m happy to get paid for the time I spend answering this question, what you don’t realize is that asking a reader to revisit the same question over and over is actually really insulting. It’s not like you’re going to a greasy spoon restaurant and ordering the same burger every week. Instead, it’s like going to a greasy spoon restaurant, ordering the burger you love, and then sending it back 15 times because the chef didn’t get it “just right.” Maybe for you there’s some redeeming value in asking the same question 15 times, but for the reader is punishingly boring and equally insulting.

10th: Now that you’ve finished reading for my main question, please answer my 53 follow-up questions.

The reading is over when the reading is over. If you have one or two follow-up questions because you just didn’t understand something I said, then by all means please ask and let me make myself clear. But if you get to the third follow-up question, then that’s not “follow-up” anymore, that’s an entirely new reading and you need to be paying for my time. Put your money on the table, or take a hint and get lost.

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I’ve tried giving buyers mandatory instructions preceded by the words, DO NOT CONTINUE UNTIL YOU’VE READ EVERY WORD OF THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH, but even that doesn’t do anything to get some clients to read the instructions. I’ve given up trying to get it right the first time and now I just send a request to cancel. Either the buyer will get it right and we’ll do business, or the buyer will go be a problem client for somebody else.

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"1st: I can’t afford to pay anything right now, but if you give me a free reading I promise I’ll pay for more readings later."
Who says this. This is insane.
Your post is an eye-opener for me. I never imagined that buyers can be so insane, irritating and funny (not for you) at the same time. I hope that all your clients read it and start improving their behaviour.
PS: I have read it and will remember these points 🙂

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You could just tell your flocks of time wasters that after consulting your cards, you don’t feel that it would be in their interests right now to seek a reading from you. Then end that with something dire like, “Oh and remember to look both ways next Tuesday when you’re about to run across the parking lot into Publix.”

That’ll teach em.

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Probably half of all orders I receive have to be sent back. My gig instructions say, “Please write your specific question here. Choose carefully,” and people will send me the following verbatim:

“Love and relationships!”
“Work and money!”
“General reading, please?”
“Tell me about my life.”

Those are the kinds of orders that I send back. Quite often these people DO have a particular question they want to ask, but they’re either afraid to ask it or haven’t given it any serious thought until I tell them to dig a little deeper.


Incidentally, “Princess and the Frog” is probably my all-time favorite Disney movie. Ever notice how even when Disney can’t get anything else right, they always get the occult, magic, and sorcery in their movies perfect? So much love and attention to detail went into this movie.

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Believe it or not, but that’s a sure-fire way to keep them begging for more. If I say there’s a sinister force that prevents me from reading their cards, or hint that there’s something terrible in their future but I don’t dare tell them what it is, I can be assured that they won’t leave me alone for the next month.

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Guest raimi86

This is interesting. Been getting into tarot for a little while now. What’s the difference between satanic tarot and normal tarot, if any?

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Generally speaking, there is no difference: all forms of divination are an affront to the mythological God of Abraham whose priests insist that only they are permitted to give prophecy and foresight. Any effort to divine the future without both the permission of God and doing so in his name is overtly Satanic because you the individual claim that power for yourself instead of begging on your knees for mercy and wisdom.

Unlike other Tarot readers who prefer not to dwell on it, I acknowledge and celebrate going against Biblical prohibitions. It gives me pleasure to do so. I prefer to work with clients who are responsible adults that are willing to change reality in accordance with their own will.

More specifically, the way that I read Tarot is Satanic because I interpret the pip cards (1-9, plus Page, Knight, Queen, King) according to the 9 Satanic Statements of the Satanic Bible written by Anton LaVey. So this means that when somebody gets a Tarot reading with me, I’m actually applying the principles of the Satanic Bible to their question and giving them a third-side perspective that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.

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Guest voicetex

Oh James,
This is true for ALL SELLERS - especially your first point. Just don’t do free work. EVER. (Unless it is for a really good cause with proven record.)

As a voice-over talent, I sometimes get this "Oh, but I actually wanted you to read this like “insert VIP name here”/“insert Child/Grandma/Salesman”. Please do it again."
Uhm, NO. This is the same with your question: If you do not give any instructions - even after being asked - , I will read it as I think it could be right. No reimbursement.
And if you think that I am afraid of a bad review, you should go and love yourself (to quote a popular song).

Sellers, be strong! We are the ones who need to learn to say NO.

Thanks again James for this eye-opening article.


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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest november4

What’s so bad about number 7? Maybe they want to have a tarot intellectual type discussion? Or they are curious how YOU read the cards? Or maybe a new tarot reader wants to improve their skills and want to see the cards you pull to learn?

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There’s nothing wrong with talking Tarot or comparing notes. But my experience has been that people who ask this question in a paid reading invariably want to argue the interpretation. One memorable client asked me such a question, and then ~12 hours later told me that he read a thing on the Internet, and now he didn’t like his reading because what I told him wasn’t precisely, completely, and exactly the same as what he found on some obscure website that’s probably ranked 382,579,382,586,091,106,852,396th on Google. If people are just curious and they just want to chat, then they’re welcome to have a discussion outside of a paid order. But when I’m reading Tarot, the only person at my table who reads my cards is me.

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